In Conversation with Sue Groner of The Parenting Mentor
Describe your business in a few words?
The Parenting Mentor works to help parents be happier and more relaxed by providing simple strategies that reduce the everyday stress and anxiety that inevitably comes from parenting.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
After 6 years working for ad agencies, I knew I was meant to be out on my own! I’m I didn’t enjoy playing the games that were required to get ahead. I’m too much of a leader to have had to sit quietly and just do what was expected.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I studied business in college. After working in advertising I started a business that helped clients find an interior designer that matched their aesthetic, budget and personality. It was a great business with one flaw – no repeat business! Next I worked as the marketing director for a music production company. It was as if it was my own business because I was able to build it and help the owners who were composers and musicians. When I had children, I chose to stay at home and enjoy the time with my children. I couldn’t help but do some consulting as well as non-profit work, especially in development. No matter what I’ve done, I consider myself to be a creative problem-solver. I’m skilled at asking the right questions that get to the core of an issue, whether it was a marketing problem or now a parenting concern.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I guess I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. As a child I had my own business that I ran with my best friend. For a few years we hand-made holiday cards. We set up a ” printing factory” in my basement using or linoleum block designs. We went door to door taking pre-orders and then making deliveries. But I did think that I would enjoy working in a corporate setting. It was fun for a while and then it was time to get out!
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I started small and utilized word of mouth. Then I hired a pr firm to get me known within the mom networks in NYC and to create expert status, which definitely worked.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
One of my biggest mistakes was thinking I could do everything by myself. I realize that there are people who can help me to get things done that are taking up too much of my time or that I’m just as good at as someone else. All this was preventing me from being focused on bigger goals.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Besides my children, now 21 and 23, I’d have to say writing my book, “Parenting with Sanity and Joy. 101 Simple Strategies” and having Real Simple magazine do a 3.5 page story in their Oct 2020 issue! I wanted to create a book that parents could pick up when they had a minute here or there, that wasn’t judgemental, and would help them in a positive, “I can do that” way and it’s definitely resonated with many parents along with the press. I’m also quite proud of being respected as a national parenting expert now and having been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, NBC.com, Today.com, Yahoo! Lifestyle, and having been interviewed by numerous TV and radio stations including NBC News Channel, HLN, and NPR.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
My business has benefitted from Covid in a number of ways. Being forced to go virtual has grown my reach. It was always an option, but now everyone is so comfortable with it. It’s easier for most parents to hop on a zoom call whether it’s a 1-on-1 session or a monthly group. On the corporate side, companies are finally realizing how important it is to support their employees who are parents. The stress that working from home while monitoring zoom school, making meals, etc, etc, can be overwhelming and workshops, groups and private session options have been so helpful to these parents so that they can be more focused, engaged and productive while working. Bravo to the companies that are providing this support!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Funny you ask! First up is my podcast which will be mini sessions with The Parenting Mentor. Parents will tell me about a particular parenting issue they are dealing with and I will offer specific strategies to guide them in dealing with the situation and help them find more parenting sanity and joy. I already have over 50 parents who’ve asked to be on the podcast!
Next up, I’m developing some membership programs for individuals, and some specific to companies. After that, I’ll be developing an on-line course made up of short video modules.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
I was comfortable growing my business in a relaxed, organic way until late this year when I realized I actually want to start scaling. This year has shown me how needed my work really is.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I wish I knew my worth more and didn’t short-change myself. Now I see that my services are highly valued and that I can be compensated accordingly.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Getting outside for some exercise (or a ride on my Peloton) and making time to be with my friends have really helped. I’ve also been able to offer a number of pro bono sessions and workshops for parents who were really struggling, and that has been very fulfilling.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I’m not a fan of the term work/life balance. I prefer work/life integration since my work is part of my life! So are my family and friends, my communities and my own well-being. I try to make time every day to do something that gets me out of my head. That could be a hike, playing the piano, or talking to a friend. I must have been English in a past life because I really enjoy a cup of tea every afternoon as well!
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a closet opera singer and I have chickens and bees.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Closing email and only checking it 3x a day. (I’m not very good at this yet!):
- Using a planner (my choice is The Productivity Planner)
- Turning my phone on airplane mode during work periods
- Closing email and only checking it 3x a day. (I’m not very good at this yet!)
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista is being boundless in terms of creativity, fortitude, resilience and energy.